I have been playing volleyball since childhood. I started off with a 4-2 formation (2 defenders and 4 attackers). Then we moved on to 5-1. (i.e. 5 attackers and 1 defender)
But nowadays, I have seen a few teams playing 6-0 as it gives them the advantage of having 3 attackers all the time.

What are the pros and cons of this formation? Will teams be shifting to 6-1 from 5-1, like the earlier trend of 4-2 to 5-1?

  • 2
    I've changed "offenders" to "offensive players" since "offenders" is not actually the opposite of "defenders" (it means "ones who have committed an offense"). I'm not familiar with volleyball terminology; is a more specific term available? Mar 22, 2012 at 17:40
  • I think Spike or spiker would be better!! or rather attackers!! Mar 22, 2012 at 18:07
  • "Attackers" would probably be the best term - it is used in sports universally. "Offensive players" can still be taken as players who often commit offensive acts.
    – unbindall
    Nov 16, 2015 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


I found a great post here: http://home.earthlink.net/~tfakehany/system.html

Volleyball systems are referenced numerically. When describing a Volleyball system with numbers, the first number indicates the number of players who are primarily hitters and the second number indicates the number of players who are primarily setters, example: in a "4-2" offense, four of the players on the court are primarily spikers and the other two are primarily setters. The setter in the front row is the active setter, while the remaining setter plays defense and/or sets broken plays. There are three main systems used in Volleyball.

The first is the "4-2" as described above. This is very popular for lower level teams because it is simple, and the active setter usually doesn't have to worry about anything except setting the ball. Few teams above the high school level use the "4-2", although the USSR women's team ran a "4-2" in 1989 against the USA team, so anything is possible. The weakness in this system is that there are only two primary spikers in the front row and the opposition has three blockers, thus there is a major advantage for the defense.

What most teams want is a three hitter versus three blocker alignment. The "6-2" is able to provide this. We all know that the rules won't allow for eight players on the court. So properly, in the "6-2" system two of the hitters double as setters. In the "6-2" the active setter is in the back row. This allows the setter who is in the front row to concentrate on hitting. This is in contract to the "4-2" system where the active setter is n the front row.

When the ball is passed, the back row setter runs to the net to set (in a movement called a penetration) before returning to the back row to play defense. When the ball is passed, the setter in the back row will run to the net and set while the other setter is getting ready to hit. One setter is always in the front row and the other is always in the back row. They should never be in the front or back together.

Most teams use a "5-1" system which is a combination of the "6-2" and the "4-2" systems. With the complexity of today's game, most of the collegiate and international offenses teams have found it difficult to find two setters who are great at both setting and hitting. Furthermore, when you have two setters it can be difficult to switch between the rhythm of one setter and the other setter every three rotations. The Cuban National team and a few top college teams are the only teams who use the "6-2" at a high competitive level. A greater number of middle and lower competitive teams and most recreational teams use the "6-2" system. In the Eastern United States, a "6-2" is frequently called a "6-0". The minor difference between a "6-2" and a "6-0" is that the setter and opposite are substituted as they change rows. When the setter goes to the front row, instead of becoming a hitter, a new hitter substitutes in. This is a "6-2" because you are using eight players (6 2). In the "6-0" there is no substitution and you use six players (6 0).

  • 2
    Can you summarize the article instead? Copying 80% of it seems a bit much. Mar 26, 2012 at 18:59
  • I can, but this is a summary already. And I didn't know if the link would be valid in a few years, that's why I copied the summary.
    – Xander
    Mar 27, 2012 at 6:22

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